The cannabis market is flooded with an abundance of products from various brands. Navigating through this vast landscape may seem overwhelming, but fear not!

Extensive research has revealed that although each cannabis product possesses its own distinct qualities, they can be easily categorized into six distinct groups.

These categories are determined by the chemical composition of the products. This means that products within the same category are likely to produce similar effects, while those in different categories yield different outcomes. To make it even simpler, we have assigned a unique color to each category.

Discover your favorite color to find your favorite products. It’s that simple.


What are the six main Strain Categories?

Category C Icon Purple Strains

The average expression of the PURPLE category has a primary peak in Caryophyllene with secondary peaks in Limonene and Humulene. This category is typically low in Pinene.

Category L Icon Yellow Strains

The average expression of the YELLOW category has a primary peak in Limonene with secondary peaks in Caryophyllene and Linalool, with appreciable amounts of pinene.

Category Y Icon Red Strains

The average expression of the RED category has primary peaks in Myrcene, Caryophyllene and Limonene in roughly equal amounts. This category is usually low in Pinene and Humulene.

Category M Icon Blue Strains

The average expression of the BLUE category has a strong primary peak in Myrcene. While strains in this category can have other terpenes, Myrcene by far plays the dominant role.

Category P Icon Green Strains

The average expression of the GREEN category has primary peaks in a-Pinene and Myrcene with a secondary peak in Caryophyllene. Strains in this category are rare and tend to be very diverse.

Category T Icon Orange Strains

The ORANGE Category has a primary peak in Terpinolene with secondary peaks in Myrcene and b-Ocimene. The Orange category is very distinct. Some unique strains exist on the border between this category and the Green category.

What does the Strain Compass mean?

The Strain Compass is a powerful tool that helps you gain insight into your cannabis products and how they fit into an ecosystem of similar, yet chemically distinct, products.

Our research has shown that the cannabis market is CLUSTERED into six distinct product categories based on their chemical profile.

How is the Strain Compass created?

We built the Strain Compass using data from thousands of tested cannabis samples. We analyzed test results from those samples, assessing the aggregate data, to discover the similarities and differences between cannabis products.

The information revealed a Universe of cannabis products like STARS in the SKY. We call this our “Strain Universe” and just like the real universe, the Strain Universe is clustered into galaxies – we call each galaxy a “Strain Category.”

The Strain Compass represents each unique strain's proximity to the average expression of one of these categories, showcasing the individual profile of each and every strain.

Diving deeper

For those interested in knowing more about their strains, the strain compass goes beyond just strain categories and delves into the distinctiveness of individual products within each category. While products in the same category share similarities, they each possess their own defining characteristics. While not everyone may feel the need to explore further, there are those who crave more knowledge, and the strain compass provides deeper insights into how our mathematical model compares and groups strains.

A particular product’s specific expression (the thick line) is charted alongside the product category average (the shaded area) to identify how the product is similar or dissimilar.

In this example the product, when compared to the average for the category, has more a-Pinene and Humulene and a little less Myrcene. While it still fits neatly into the Blue Category, the compass shows how the product is unique from the average. Compass_in_Action%20%281%29


Q: My Strain Compass doesn’t match the Strain Compass of another company’s product with the same strain name; what’s up with that?

Many factors contribute to the expression of a specific strain's genetics, including the grow medium, environment, nutrient mixture, extraction method, etc. Your strain fingerprint is a reflection of your cultivation methods and/or processing methods. Additionally, naming conventions in the cannabis industry are very loose so the Strain Compass can also be used to identify mislabeled strains/genetics.

Q: Why does my Strain Compass change between flower and extract of the same strain?

Solvents and other parameters (i.e. temperature and pressure) used during extraction heavily influence which compounds are captured in the final concentrate. The compass can be used to identify which aspects of the flower are being lost or changed during extraction, allowing you to fine tune your process to better represent the source material.

Q: My Strain Compass does not appear to match the category it was assigned to. Why is that?

If your compass fingerprint does not match the overlaid category fingerprint well, congratulations! You have a unique product that does not conform to any of the most commonly present groups in the cannabis industry. The aroma profile and effects will also likely differ from most products available on the market, which could be a great selling point!

Q: How do I get a compass for my strain(s)?

Contact our partner lab Confidence Analytics to learn how your products can start getting the strain compass insights. If you want your lab to get involved, have them reach out to Ironstem.

Q: Do the icons for each category mean that a strain in that category has a specific flavor profile?

No. The icons do not represent flavor profiles. They are simply easy visual ways to distinguish one group from another and are inspired by the most dominant terpene for that category. Flavor profiles are best described using natural language from a person trained in the art of sensory evaluation.

Q: Is this the final version of the strain compass program?

Not at all! This is an elastic program meant to grow and evolve as we learn more about this amazing plant. We will be sure to communicate all evolutions with our partners through a transparent and collaborative process. (If you are interested in being part of our workshopping team please let us know by sending an email to: